So, I'll be on the road for about 8-10 months traveling around to all the nat parks soon. I'll be driving from nat. park to nat. park, camping at other state parks and forest in between. My question is concerning food. I would like to be pretty supplied for the duration of my trip, pretty much using my trunk as a pantry. I'm looking for ideas, tips, suggestions of types of food to stock up on that I could use. Things that don't spoil, need no refrigeration, I can put in a ziplock and take to the backcountry, require little preparation, and also cheap. Cheap is a big one here. I can sacrifice taste. I've been eating garbage food for months to save up for this trip so I think my tastebuds are desensitized. Any and all suggestions are appreciated.
You are basically looking at using the same foods that we take backpacking. And if you'll do a search on these boards, you will find a ton of long discussions of this topic.
The one area where you may vary from our practices is that you might find it acceptable to use canned foods---which weigh a lot more than dried. But if you really are trying to fit a month or more of food into your trunk, I idon't think you'll want too much of the food in cans.
Then again, if I were car camping for a month, I would plan to eat in restaurant pretty regularly.
How are you cooking? If you need boil and rehydrate then you will either have to pay more or spend a time making it up yourself. If you are cooking over a fire and cooking time is not an issue then you can take rice and beans, both of which can be bought cheaply in bulk. I'd also watch for farmers markets and roadside stands as you travel to suplement your food with fresh fruits and vegetables.
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?
The first thing that comes to mind is BEARS!!!! Maybe a small trailer with a sturdy metal box to help prevent some damage?$? The second thing is how cool it would be to take a road trip like this. You could look into a muffler stove set up to help with a few meals on the road... Have a good trip...
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
What an adventure lies ahead of you! You already have some suggestions for dense, compact food. Iím thinking beans, lentils, oatmeal, rice, bulgur, barley, biscuit mix and cornmeal all pack well. Being dry, they can handle the hot/cold conditions that being in your trunk may subject them to. (Not as much the biscuit mix (shortening) and the cornmeal.) Do some reading about combining foods to get all the amino acids you need for complete proteins. Beans and rice are a classic combination, as are beans and corn. The aforementioned dry foods probably will be OK without vacuum packaging. Dry milk will deteriorate if exposed to air, humidity, and probably prolonged heat, so you may want to carry a smaller amount and maybe buy Nido in cans or quart-packaged rather than bulk-packaged powdered non-fat milk. Look around a bit and you should find some dehydrated veggies to add to your meals. Tomato sauce can be dehydrated or you can buy tomato powder. The same goes for bell peppers and parsley. These are the dried vegetables that Iíve found easiest to locate, and they are fairly versatile. I believe that, like milk, they will be more sensitive to humidity and heat. If you have a dehydrator, you can dry your own vegetables. If you also have a vacuum sealer, you can make your food last even longer. Pack enough for a few days or maybe a week, then vacuum seal. I like to clean and reuse mylar snack bags, such as snacks are packaged in. I used to collect them at school, but no longer. Larger chip bags can be cut down and sealed into smaller bags with a clothes iron. Suck out as much air as possible with a straw before sealing. These bags will stand up to boiling water, should you wish to use these for your backcountry foods. I rather liked the idea of picking up local fresh veggies from farmerís markets, etc. Pick up some eggs and cheese, and maybe small amounts of crackers, meats, nuts, and nut butter along the way, too. Donít forget your favorite basic spices, sweeteners, and salt. Cinnamon does a lot for oatmeal, and can work in rice, bulgur, and barley, and cornmeal mush the same way. I canít imagine rice and beans without spices. Look up a bunch of recipes from different parts of the world to give yourself some variety. Good luck and have a blast! CamperMom
Look on the costco website - they have packages online of like a year's worth of freeze dried meals for an entire family, for quite a chunk of change - but it would have variety and shelf life.
Plan Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon for the very last part of your trip. That way you will be able to fit your food into bear lockers. Which you will need to do in Yosemite if you plan to still have a functional car after staying there.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
I know if I were doing that I would be taking a lot of the kinds of stuff I take backpacking, and some of the bulk foods I make at home that are cheap
spices and stuff (chili, salt, pepper,curry, garlic, etc) potato flakes onion flakes pasta couscous ramen mac n cheese rolled oats peanut butter lentils (they cook fast!) chicken soup/stock mix (for soup or cooking) coffee/tea (I'm addicted) olive oil garlic beans
I'd probably take a bunch of canned stuff,for easy meals and variety. a few dozen cans of stew, chili, tuna, corned beef, and canned fruit (pineapple, peaches, etc.) and some pasta sauce.
I'd pick up the odd loaf of bread as I went along at a convenience store. still cheap.
I'd then chuck in a pot to cook in, and something cheap to cook on. I would probably take a white gas stove, because enough fuel for a month is not very expensive, and I wouldn't have to fiddle with finding wood or whatever where there wasn't any to be had.
I'd also take a bunch of 2l pop bottles to have for water stowage, so I could tank up at rest stops that had potable water for drinking/cooking.
But a lot of it will depend on your ability to make stuff you like out of simple basic ingredients.
but have fun. sounds like you've been thinking about it and you will.
Loc: San Diego CA
If you can, try to stop off at the farmers markets to get what is in season while you are moving around. It is usually the cheapest because they are trying to move it before it goes bad. This may work out better in some areas than others ... you just have to keep your eyes open.
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
Another suggestion about cooking supplies. Yes, white gas is a cheaper fuel than most, other than found wood. To speed up cooking and to conserve fuel, consider investing in a pressure cooker for use when car-camping. You will be amazed at what you can cook and how quickly. I even found instructions for "baking" a loaf of bread in a pressure cooker. The texture is different, but not bad. (Instrucatbles, IIRC.)
Also, if you can find quinoa, it is one of the rare plant foods that contains all of the amino acids to be considered a "complete" protein. Google for some recipes.
I'll second the point on bears if you're heading for Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Yellowstone and many other parks with a bear issue. Not only is it illegal to leave food in your car (and the bears will definitely smell it in the trunk), you can get a fine of $5000 in Yosemite for doing so (we were just there and saw the sign and were even made to sign a piece of paper saying we'd been warned and confirming that we would remove all food and place it either in bear lockers or inside a hotel room).
You should make sure your food is packed so it's organized and easily moveable. Also, don't forget how hot it can get in the trunk - that will accelerate the deterioration of many foods.
In any case, sounds like you have a great adventure planned - enjoy.